Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Aal Izz Well!

After much ado and several unsuccessful attempts to obtain the tickets, I finally got to watch the movie that's making news these days: 3 Idiots. Incidentally, I am not much of a fiction buff and since it's usually fiction books that 'inspire' movies, this was the first time I was watching a movie after having read the story it's apparently based on. Obviously, I was excited, anticipant and a li'l apprehensive about really enjoying the story, since I had already read it.

I am not going to spell out the story here as almost all of you must have seen the movie by now. It's but a simple story of three guys working their way through an engineering school - four years of drudgery. Reticent geeks de-stressing themselves to the tones of acoustic guitars, self-obsessed highly regarded (mostly by the outside world) faculty members, hard-core techno stuff, tons of assignments, nerdy involvement with machines and yeah, scarce presence of feminity. Being an engineer myself, there were several aspects I could relate to, both in a supportive manner as well as contradictory. For instance, my Dad didn't announce at the time of my birth that I'd be an engineer. Rather, I've been lucky to have chosen that path myself with the full support of my family. More so because it's been a passion. I still remember the day I ran my first computer program. I was in fourth grade and the programming language was BASIC and the program printed the squares of the first ten natural numbers. It was amazing to see the entire list of ten numbers being printed out in the green console font on the monitor in an instant. I took the CPU apart to try and figure out what made that stuff so quick. Although, I couldn't figure out much on the hardware side then, the software did get me hooked. I guess I got lucky with 'the knack' :D!

The experience was ethereal. Something like a first crush which later develops into an obsession! I actually slept with my the hard copy version of my code under my pillow :). Another such experience was when I wrote my first substantially involved code - generating Pascal's triangle dynamically, on a bar napkin while everyone around me was letting their hair down partying :D! So I wouldn't be the one who'd hum "Ek pal toh hamein jeene do ..."; I have been lucky to have lived it hitherto :)! And I'm grateful to everyone concerned for that!

3 Idiots, as a movie comes across to me as a touching one with several splendid moments. It's an eclectic combination of camaraderie, love, nostalgia, team spirit, mischief, the urge to break free ... and I guess I watched it at the most appropriate time, given that tonight I am catching a flight to my college to attend my convocation ceremony :). I especially liked the hospital sequence wherein the three guys bond together as a unit, helping out the ailing father. Also the climax scene has been shot beautifully against the sparkling blue Ladaakhi waters. Awesome stuff! The timing in this particular sequence has been near-perfect. One could really feel the ups and down the characters' hearts must've been experiencing when they were trying to figure out whether both of them were still single! And the pretty regular appearance of the blazing red Volvo XC70 is more than just eye candy! The director has adapted the original story perfectly for a movie-like production and I agree with him that it is 'just loosely' based on the book by (apparently) India's best-selling pulp fiction author.

Finally, to be honest, with regards to the Khan wars in Bollywood, I have been a staunch supporter of the SRK camp so much so that I ignored Aamir's performances in TZP, Ghajini etc. because of my bias. But this movie made me sit up and take notice. A masterpiece by the perfectionist. All I can say is 'Jahaanpanaah, tussi great ho!'.

Monday, 11 January 2010

I survived MySQL (re-)installation!

Ever got the opportunity to experience the installation of MySQL Server 5.1 on your own system? Well yours truly recently went through the ordeal.

The thing is it's not an ordeal if it is a clean first time install but consider the case when you or someone else installed it on your machine a few weeks/months ago and now you don't have access to the root password. What would you do then? MySQL server installer is programmed in a way (apparently to preserve the security of the database) that it doesn't let you proceed unless you know that goddamn old root password (which many a times turns out to be the sys-admin's girlfriend's name). Even an uninstallation followed by attempted clean installation doesn't help. So now one is stuck! What do we do?

Problem Statement:  To hell with the old DB and perform a clean installation of MySQL Server 5.1, bypassing the root password requirement.


Step 1: Run the installation. Hit the last page. Encounter the error. Close.

Step 2: Go to the 'Application Data' folder on your Windows installation drive (usually C:) and Shift+Delete the MySQl folder there.

Step 3:  Go to the 'Program Files' folder on your Windows installation drive (usually C:) and Shift+Delete the MySQl folder there.

Step 4: Go to HKLM/Software/MySql registry key: and reset all of them to '0'.

Step 5: Restart your system.

Step 6: Re-install. Now it goes through smoothly!

Result: You are able to reinstall a fresh copy without formatting your system :D!

Sit back. Relax. Glory to MySQL! World's most popular open source DB.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

mondodello is back!

This blog has been in an "under-renovation" state for quite some time ... But, bugged (hmm ... that's an impromptu choice of words on display here :|) by people who happen to visit this piece of cyberspace pretty regularly, I was forced to get out of my hibernation. So here I am with a new post that follows this one.

Umm ... what changes has the much talked about "renovation" affected on my blog, you may ask. Well ... umm ... nothing much, I'd say but yeah, there's quite a lot in the pipeline and since I had to start from somewhere, hence this post. I'll keep plumbing in the changes over a period of time. But this time, it'd be a lot sooner than expected (Obviously, after waiting for months, all your expectations would have plummeted to a new low :P :D !).

Thanks for your patience, fellas! And yup, have a wonderful new year 2010!

Friday, 1 January 2010

The acolytes won!

USD 146 Bn! That's the annual turnover/market of the global cosmetics industry (and these are last year's statistics). What is it that makes this segment of the industry tick? In the business community's lingo, have they got the 4Ps of marketing - product, place, promotion, packaging - in place? What is it that makes millions of women (and an increasingly growing number of men, eager to jump on to the 'metrosexual' bandwagon) around the world buy such products every year? Is it the superiority of the product? Or is it that gorgeous starlet endorsing one of those age-defying creams?

If you look around you can instinctly figure out the answer. More often than not it ain't the product (none of those argotic AHA's or Provitamin B5 makes sense to the general masses and to be honest, their isn't lot of fun in researching a lot before buying something that is gonna be used up in a few days). It ain't the price (we all know how absurdly these products are priced). It ain't the place either. Not many dedicated stores are present which sell only such stuff exclusively. Promotion? Umm ... that could be it. Let's see ...

It's one of those uneventful days. After 'toiling hard' at workplace (hehe ... can't I abuse my artistic license? After all, I am the author of this blog!) one is going back home. Rows of glittering, neon-bleached billboards greet you. There's Schumacher telling you to drink responsibly and drive safely (Whoa! He's got more to offer than just that ... come March 2010, the maestro is gonna be back scorching the tracks with his racing antics! Countdown set. Fingers crossed and with bated breath, I am waiting :)!).

Then there is that petite beauty flaunting her Tanishq piece. There are also those not-so-subtle versions almost provoking you to go buy that product (Remember the Thums Up ad: 'Bade ho jaao bacche!'). Amidst all this clutter there is also that pristine beauty of an automobile - the BMW 3 series masterpiece - menacingly staring at you in a prancing posture, reminding you that that's the good life!

Saifeena are busy sitting pretty atop one such billboard endorsing that a particular telecom giant's MPEG4 technology-charged product indeed makes it all 'look so real' for them! And then there are those cute models wearing all sorts of clothes actually making you believe they'd look as good on you. Stop! How many times have such marketing instruments actually 'inspired' you to go buy that piece or at least prodded you to go check it out? That's where you lost it. That's where the acolytes of Mr Kotler won.

The point I am trying to drive home is that it is these subtle, subliminal messages that emanate from such adverts which impel one to check out a product and also influence the final buying decision to a substantial extent. gone are the days when Sachin would pop up on television and tell you that Boost is the secret of his energy and we'd all go madly to buy that product. Today's advertising has evolved to a degree that ads almost get away without projecting the message explicitly but still ensure that the cash register keeps on clicking. Remember the Cadbury ad: 'The real taste of life!'. It was an ad about chocolates with nothing but the last 6 seconds that showed one of the characters actually eating one. That's when Indian advertising evolved from being in-your-face to subtle, subliminal! In this ad instead of selling the chocolates on their original USP, they were associated being all about happiness (a higher emotion) and freedom of expression. 


Today one can see this happening all over the advertising place especially within the tobacco industry. Liquor and tobacco advertising has mostly been banned but haven't you seen an ad wherein a mineral water brand is being sold with the tag line: 'King of good times!'; We all know what good times are being referred to here :|. That's a more clever form of subliminal advertising and is bluntly and aptly called Surrogate Advertising! Mr Martin Lindstrom, author of the popular book Buyology, hints at the impending ideal state when all this will evolve into neuromarketing, when the ad companies will be actually able to 'manipulate' customers' decision making process in their favor through subtle surrogate messages not explicitly discernible!. Is that scary? You bet!

Victimised in a similar manner, like those ladies mentioned above, who go buy those age-defying cosmetics again and again with a hope that it'd actually make them younger (to the state of sweet sixteen in the ideal sense!), yours truly went to buy a complete care-kit from a reputed brand - not for himself, but for his suede leathers. In an optimistic frame of mind, one actually believed that those rain-lashed, puddle-soiled suedes will actually get a new lease of life, or in simpler terms, be able to defy their age. But alas! the various creams and brushes in the kit did their trick only to the extent that I am convinced to try it again next weekend, and may be again on the weekend after that. There was no instant effect - as *advertised*! As I said - the acolytes won! The various stages of treatment have been captured in these snaps posted here, as part of post-operative documentation:

Ladies in the parlour: The one on the right has just been cleaned with the "cleaner" liquid while the one on the left has already been tormented with the "renovator" liquid.


A close-up shot reveals the scars of the past (a pretty small past for that matter ... it's just been six months)!


The typical Woodland shot: Inspired by the print ads that appear in Sunday Times, in this 'pose' we see the baby drying up after a nice bath!